The Hangover Effect

Most of us will have had our fair share of hangovers over the years; although few will have had one recently. I can’t even remember the last time I had the chance to get a hangover never mind actually having one. My late nights with friends in a pub are distant memories. 

Anyway I am not here writing about my past antics and the subsequent hangovers; but the hangovers that C gets. Before you ask, no I do not let my 5 year old consume alcohol! These are the hangovers caused by events that happen and aren’t the ones that can be cured by a few pints of water, paracetamol and bananas!

Many of us know how anxious our children get before a family gathering, a friends birthday party or an outing to the zoo. But I have found that the after effect of such things can, and usually do, go on far longer than the anxiety that consumed him before. This is what T and myself have called The Hangover Effect!

The latest example of this and I grant you an extreme one. But none the less a very good example of how something can cause so many issues for so long. And something that pretty much no one actually realises, gets or understands.

The first week of the Spring Break we were meant to be going away for 4 nights to stay with family. A week before, due to a partially bad meltdown that C had, I ended up getting a slipped disc in my back. As much I tried to push on, I realised even 5 minutes in the car was pretty eye watering so 6 hours was just not an option. C was given the option that he could go with G his little brother and T is Dad, and I stay at home to try and get better or we all stay at home. Well as we had spent the last 2 weeks talking to C about going, he had it in his head he was going to go, with or without me.

In itself this was an amazing achievement and I was so proud of not only my crazy husband for thinking this was a good idea, bearing in mind neither of our children sleep (both have yet to sleep through the night), C finds it very hard to be away from home at the best of times, so his behaviour shall we say is challenging on a good day. And neither of the boys have been away from me for more than 2 nights and that was when I went away and they stayed at home.

Somehow they survived. But on their return C’s behaviour just deteriorated to an all-time low. In the past his hangovers have lasted 1 – 3 days depending on what we have done. They are times when we can pretty much do nothing with him. His PDA becomes highlighted with a massive pink highlighter and not even the smallest demand can be placed upon him without stuff being thrown, him screaming and if pushed a meltdown follows. 
But this hangover is the mother of all hangovers. It has been over a week and I am not sure I can yet see the light at the end of tunnel.

Normally given time these hangovers pass and we get back into our normal, if not slightly crazy routine. But I think this time, C was pushed beyond a point he should have been. The family is paying the price of taking C away from his secure structure and comfort zone. I think we all need to push our children a little bit so they keep on achieving new things. Learning they can do things and hopefully resulting in their anxiety very slowly reducing. But I also think we can push them too hard and expect too much. The hidden disability, even at times hides from the people who not only know about it but are also trying to understand it. C is very good at keeping it together at times. Too many people, including family, seem to think he is coping when he is not.

Hangovers are real and although often they are a result of C having, had a good time.  There is a limit on how long they should last. If by us doing something means he has a couple of bad days, caused by an activity he has enjoyed albeit found hard, I can just about justify that in my head. 

But if by doing something results in more than 3 bad days, we need to learn from that and take more notice of the warning signs.  Going to a pub and having one too many and waking up the next morning with a banging head is one thing but going to an all night rave and drinking until dawn isn’t a great plan; and a plan we’d pay for, for many a day after.  


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